At-Home Treatments for Piriformis Syndrome


What is piriformis syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome is a health condition that occurs when the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is located in the buttocks near the upper portion of the hip joint; it stabilizes the hip joint and enables the rotation of the thighs. The sciatic nerve runs alongside the piriformis muscle, and after branching off into smaller nerves, it ends at the feet. Piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle spasms or contracts and irritates or compresses the sciatic nerve. This results in pain that initiates in the buttocks, sometimes extends down the back of one or both legs, and occasionally enters the feet. Tingling or numbness may also be felt in the affected area.

Treating piriformis syndrome at home

Piriformis syndrome is typically caused by repetitive movements that stress the piriformis muscle, such as running or lunging. Piriformis syndrome can usually be treated at home and can be prevented by properly stretching prior to exercise and by modifying physical activities.

At-home treatments
  • Rest
    Rest allows the piriformis muscle and sciatic nerve time to heal. Individuals should avoid activities that trigger symptoms.
  • Temperature therapy
    Alternating heat and ice on the buttocks or legs can reduce inflammation and pain. Individuals can place an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the area for 15 to 20 minutes. After icing, a heating pad can be placed on the same location for the same amount of time. This can be repeated every few hours.
Activities to avoid
  • Avoidance of prolonged sitting
    Individuals should avoid prolonged sitting, especially with an item in the back pocket, such as a wallet or cell phone.
  • Physical activity precautions
    Stretching before exercise can prevent the development of piriformis syndrome. Also, to lower the risk of piriformis syndrome, individuals should avoid running or exercising up and down hills or on uneven surfaces. A health care professional should be consulted if needed.

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